Struggling to Get Your Kids to Learn Math? Try the Stock Market!
By Iris Marie Mack, PhD, EMBA
Most of my teaching jobs have been at the college/university and executive levels. However, for quite some time I have been thinking:
How do I make mathematics “edutainment”?
How do I make math fun and relevant so that people enjoy it instead of dreading it?
How do I make algebra, quadratic equations, probability, statistics, calculus and other mathematical techniques interesting?
That is why I set up a vehicle through my business Phat Math, Inc. (www.phatmath.us) and published nine math and financial literacy books available on Amazon.com.
Then, in March 2018, I decided to go into the “belly of the beast” to test some of my math edutainment and financial literacy strategies in a “laboratory” at a high school. After nagging the school principal, the head of the math department, the IT department and everyone else I could think of, I managed to set up a makeshift stock market “laboratory”. I was fortunate to be able to secure 150 Tradestation brokerage accounts and real stock market data from various exchanges for the students to use. In my lab I started teaching the kids how to apply mathematics to the stock and options markets.
On most days I conducted my mathematics lab at this high school as follows:
Begin the lab with a formal lecture
Encourage discussion during and after my lecture
Set aside time for individual practice/drills
Set aside time for group workshops and presentations
In my lab I am teaching my students how to apply mathematical concepts to the stock market to combat both innumeracy (mathematics illiteracy) and financial illiteracy. As a result, within a relatively short period of time, an amazing transformation took place right in front of me:
One young man – who used to either sleep or just sit quietly next to his twin brother – came alive when we started applying Advanced Math/Precalculus to the stock and options markets. He transformed right in front of my eyes into a mini-CNBC Wall Street analyst. I was so excited that I called his parents to tell them. They were shocked by the change in their boy because even at home he hardly ever spoke.
One young lady wanted us to skip the “stock stuff” and quickly move on to the “options stuff” where “Dr. Mack makes most of her money.”
Two young men told me that prior to taking my class they did not think of themselves as “college material”. After learning about the applications of math to the financial markets they decided to apply to colleges with the hope of studying business and finance.
Math is definitely a lot of fun if learners understand how it is applied in everyday life. By going through this program, more kids can learn math while having lots of fun. In addition, such a program can help to simultaneously combat math illiteracy and financial illiteracy!